Love it, hate it, or try to avoid it, proptech has become an inescapable part of the real estate industry, both in Australia and New Zealand and across the globe. Whether it’s the everyday minutiae of running a portfolio or major business-changing strategy decisions, there’s now a technological, data-driven tool to help.
But with the explosion of innovation, start-ups, and new trends in the sector, it can be a real challenge to know where to find the best bang for your buck. To help, we’ve put together a list of the top proptech trends to watch out for in 2021, so you can focus on what’s really going to make the difference for your business.
What is proptech?
Similar to fintech in the financial sector, proptech essentially describes the tech-driven transformation that’s affecting almost every aspect of the real estate industry. It’s as much a shift in mentality as it is in process, focusing on optimising efficiency and removing barriers to success. It’s allowing real estate professionals, owners, and tenants alike greater convenience and opportunities, while also making the often complex industry simpler to navigate.
While the huge amount that’s been written on the topic has turned it into a bit of a buzzword, there’s a real change emerging behind the rhetoric, and proptech is moulding the way real estate agencies operate on both the macro and micro scale.
Why does it matter?
Simply put, the extent to which property management agencies embrace proptech will determine their future competitiveness. Harnessing proptech means finding new, more efficient ways of handling previously time-intensive manual processes, opening up new streams of revenue, and gaining additional selling points to attract tenants and owners alike.
And, as we’ve discussed before, it also allows agencies to start engaging in data-driven decision making. That means smarter strategies, more informed choices, and even further capacity to optimise income and reduce expenses.
Trend #1: The cloud
While cloud-based property management software and the move away from in-office servers has been gaining traction for some time now, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed a record number of agencies to make the jump.
That’s mostly because cloud-based property management software opens up the possibility for staff to access data, contacts, and key processes from anywhere they have an internet connection, drastically reducing the reliance on a central place of business.
Just as importantly, adoption of a cloud-based property management system also reduces operating costs, particularly when it comes to IT, which is a crucial consideration in a time of economic uncertainty.
On top of that, there’s also the increased efficiencies offered through integrations, automation, and collaboration. That means higher profits, thanks to the ease of handling larger portfolios, as well as decreasing vacancy rates and owner churn.
Trend #2: Data analytics
High-end data analysis and visualisation functions are becoming increasingly popular as features of property management software. And because of this, it’s becoming simpler than ever for agencies to use their own data to optimise revenue streams, processes, user experience, and portfolio expansion.
In fact, data analytics and data-driven decision making are emerging as key components of any winning property management strategy. If you want to drive change within how your agency operates, fuel rapid growth and success, and ensure you’ve got an edge on the competition, this is one trend that you don’t want to miss.
Whether you adopt an in-software or third-party option, there’ll be a definite learning curve and shift in approach required, but the results will be well worth the effort.
Trend #3: Integrations
With more and more agencies accessing all of their key property management data and processes online via cloud-based software, it has become increasingly viable for third parties to offer deep, high-quality integrations. That means systems that talk to each other seamlessly, offering agencies vastly increased ease of use and efficiency gains, as well as reducing the amount of double-handling of data required.
When it comes to the sorts of integrations available, the sky’s the limit. Console Cloud, for example, boasts integrations with Property Management Inspector, PropertySafe/Maintenance Manager, Movinghub, Forms Live, and many more.
That means what once required multiple visits to different sites, an array of login credentials, and time spent flicking between screens can now all be achieved through one integrated ecosystem.
Trend #4: User-focused solutions
Just as proptech is allowing property management agencies an unprecedented ability to connect services together and enjoy greater efficiency, so too is it offering owners and tenants enhanced user experiences and convenience.
That includes everything from smartphone apps and portals that allow self-service access to owner statements, rental records, and maintenance requests to simpler application processes with pre-verification of identity, references, income, and employment.
As proptech continues to gain hold, these sorts of advances are only going to increase. So if your agency isn’t offering customers the same level of convenience, it’s worth considering how proptech could help you do more.
Trend #5: Virtual reality
With coronavirus limiting the potential for both in-person viewings and inspections, proptech has provided a number of workarounds to solve the issue. Allowing virtual access to properties, either by pre-recorded video, streaming, and even VR has proven a powerful way to ensure social distance doesn’t get in the way of continuing business.
For tenants with health concerns or immune conditions, this is a particularly important development. Come inspection time, they can use video-link technology to take agents through their property themselves, pausing to allow still photographs or close-ups for more detail.
Similarly, while not strictly related to property management, augmented reality has also become a popular tool for advertising off-plan developments. AR doesn’t require a VR headset—all it needs is a smartphone—and allows users the opportunity to walk through homes that even been built yet.
Trend #6: Fractional investing
While property forms a key part of many people’s investment portfolios, there are others who don’t have the sort of cash it takes to purchase a whole house or apartment outright. Fractional investing is the proptech solution to this issue, allowing investors to essentially purchase shares in a property and receive income based on the size of their stake.
While fractional investing is still in its infancy, it’s expected to become big business in the future, with one study predicting the global market to grow to up to $870 billion by 2027. That’s mostly thanks to the low barriers to entry, both in terms of initial capital and investing knowledge.